Have you ever, while watching the movie Julie & Julia, drawn comparisons between Julia Child’s struggle to find the right publisher and the mercurial marketplace of academic publishing?
You probably haven’t. But historians have.
The comparison is one of many under the Twitter hashtag #HATM. The abbreviation stands for Historians At The Movies and was created by Jason Herbert, a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities who now lives in Florida where he studies indigenous people and ecology.
Every Sunday at 8 p.m. EST, Herbert and other historians, plus people who just enjoy history, watch the same movie. They tweet along, sharing insight, tidbits, and punchlines. They prepared for the 2019 Oscars, by watching Roma, a Best Picture nominee. On Sunday, they’ll live-tweet the awards ceremony — which will be fun and a break from the norm, Herbert says.
Since the hashtag kicked off in July 2018, the weekly ritual has cultivated quite the following.
The Chronicle spoke with Herbert about what sparked the idea, how to forge scholarly camaraderie online, and why historians have a soft spot for Benjamin Franklin Gates, the historian/treasure hunter played by Nicolas Cage in the movie National Treasure.
Q. How did this idea come to you?
A. When I left Minnesota, I left behind a lot of my friends and colleagues who I saw on a day-to-day basis and would have these great conversations with. I needed to create a new network for myself where I could still be intellectually engaged with an academic community, even though I was physically removed. I got active on Twitter. I would talk to other historians. I had seen that National Treasure was going to be on Netflix. I just tweeted out, ‘We should all watch it.’ And someone said, ‘Yeah, we should do that.’
The running gag with historians is that the archeologists get Harrison Ford, but historians get Nicholas Cage. You laugh at it, but we all kind of love National Treasure. So why not? It’ll be fun and silly and a nice way to blow off steam on a Sunday night in the middle of the summer. We had a lot of people engage. Joanne Freeman, who’s a professor at Yale, jumped in. She studies early America and she just died when she saw them putting lemon juice on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
Read the rest here.